Saturday, September 28, 2013

Penne with Sausage Ragu and Sicilian Meatballs

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Ladies and gentlemen, I regret to inform you that our on-going lemon extravaganza has been postponed for a day. That little thing called life has gotten in the way and my time was needed elsewhere today. I lost the light before I could photograph the last of my lemon treats, so I still have two outstanding recipes to share with you. On Sunday, I'll feature a wonderful tea cookie, called a Lemon Thin, and on Monday, the jewel in my crown, a Lemon Mousse Cake will take center stage. As for today, a friend needed help with a commitment she had made and asked for my assistance. So, on a very meatless Friday, I found myself knee deep in sweet sausage, Sicilian meatballs and a truly stellar ragu. This recipe was clipped from on old issue of Gourmet magazine and those of you who try it will not be disappointed. The sauce is thick and rich and is infused with the flavors of pork and beef and the barest hint of cinnamon and fennel (from the sausage). The meatballs are extraordinary and herein lies the problem. While adults will love their fine texture, children will spend the entire meal picking out the currents and pine nuts that contribute to their wonderful flavor. My job is merely to warn of such hazzards. Unfortunately, yours is to deal with them. In Sicily, this dish is served on Shrove Tuesday and it's an integral part of their Carnival celebration. Traditionally, this dish would be served in two parts. The pasta would be served as a first course and the meats would be piled on a platter and served as the second. Gourmet magazine recommended piling the meats on top of the pasta. You don't want to do that. While it may be authentic, it looks terrible. Instead, cut the sausage into pieces and toss it and the meatballs into the penne. This is lovely peasant food and it is perfect for cold weather. The trenchermen in your family will love this dish. Here's the recipe.

Penne with Sausage Ragu and Sicilian Meatballs...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Gourmet Magazine



3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs from Italian bread (crusts discarded)

1/4 cup whole milk

1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz) whole almonds with skin, toasted

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 pound ground beef chuck

1/2 cup finely grated pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano

1/4 cup dried currants

1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large egg

Sausage Ragu

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Sicilian Meatballs (above)

12 sweet Italian sausage links (2-pounds total)

1 large onion, finely chopped

1 large garlic clove, smashed

2 cups dry red wine (i.e. Chianti)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes in puree

1/2 bay leaf


1-1/2 ponds ridged penne

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1) To make meatballs: Place bread crumbs and milk in a medium bowl. Stir to mix. Pulse almonds with sugar in a food processor until finely ground. Add to bread crumb mixture, along with remaining ingredients, and mix with your hands until just combined. Roll mixture into 1-inch meatballs and transfer to a plate. Refrigerate if not cooking immediately.

2) To make the sausage ragu: Heat oil in a large 8 to 9-quart pot until oil shimmers. Working in batches, brown meatballs, turning occasionally, about 4 minutes per batch. Transfer to a plate. Prick sausages with a fork and brown in the same pot, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes. Transfer to another plate. Reduce heat to moderate and cook onions, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrance is released, about 30 seconds. Stir in wine, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes and puree and bay leaf. Return sausages and meatballs, along with accumulated juices to center of pot. Cover and simmer for 1-1/2 hours.

3) To prepare pasta: Bring 6 to 8 quarts of water to a boil. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of salt and return to a boil. Following package directions, add pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well and return to pot.

4) To serve: Add peas to ragu and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Add pasta. Cut sausage into 2-inch pieces. Add sausage and meatballs to pasta and toss to combine. Serve immediately. Yield: 8 to 10 generous servings.

You might also enjoy these recipes:

Baked Ziti with Mini Meatballs - Gonna Want Second

Baked Pasta with Chicken Sausage - The Sweet's Kitchen

Pasta Ponza - Playing House

Chicken Lasagna - The Brunette Foodie

Sausage and Mushroom Cannelloni - What's Cookin' Chicago?

Orecchiette with Spicy Italian Sausage - Chewing the Fat

Baked Penne with Spinach, Roasted Red Peppers and B.A.C.O.N. - The Recipe Girl

Farfalle with Mushrooms and Sausage - Angelnina's Cottage

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